Posts Tagged ‘Scott Atchison’

I’ll talk about the game first and what it means afterwards, because the situation is pretty dire and it would be easy to get ahead of myself in exploring the truly pathetic and unfortunate predicament in which we currently find ourselves.

Lester gave up five runs, four earned, on nine hits over four and one-third innings.  He walked two, struck out six, and threw 101 pitches.  He gave up three runs in the first thanks to an RBI double and a force out, he gave up one in the second on a sac fly (this was the unearned run, because the runner was able to advance from second to third on a passed ball by Salty), and he gave up two in the fifth thanks to a triple and a single.

It was one of those games where it was just a chore to pitch.  Lester was really laboring, which explains his high pitch count relative to the number of innings he pitched; he threw twenty-nine pitches in the first, twenty in the second, thirteen in the third, nineteen in the fourth, and twenty in the fifth before he was pulled.  His cut fastball was good, but his sinker, changeup, and curveball were not great by any means, and he was really struggling, getting behind, and throwing a lot of pitches.  Even when he got himself ahead of hitters, there were too many occasions where he couldn’t seal the deal.  So the Yanks had the opportunity to see more of his stuff, plus he was getting tired earlier, plus he was putting men on base.  When a good pitcher has a bad day, that’s generally what it looks like.  We lost, but we’re lucky it wasn’t worse.  Slugfests are usually pretty embarrassing, so it’s better to lose with dignity than to lose without it.

Atchison replaced Lester after the RBI single in the seventh and pitched the rest of the inning plus the sixth without incident.  He made the first out of the seventh pretty quickly before then giving up a double followed by a home run, at which point he was replaced by Melancon, who pitched the rest of the inning plus the eighth.  Aceves pitched the ninth.

Unfortunately, we didn’t really put up too much of a fight.  We scored one run in the first on an error, went down in order in the second, and then scored another run in the third on a double by Papi.  We went down in order in the fourth, in four in the fifth, and in order in the sixth.  We opened the seventh with back-to-back walks on ten pitches, but we went down in order after that.  We scored our last run in the eighth on a double by Aviles.  We put two on in the ninth but didn’t do anything with it.

But that first-inning run deserves elaboration.  Not too much went well yesterday, but I will say that I did thoroughly enjoy Derek Jeter’s day in the field, which absolutely abysmal.  In all the Sox-Yanks games I’ve seen, I don’t think I’ve seen a single fielding performance by Jeter as terrible as this one.  It was awesome.  With runners on first and second in the first and one out, Jeter had plenty of time and space to catch what was supposed to be a routine popup by Ross to end the inning.  And he just dropped it.  He dropped it.  It was amazing.  The ball was right there, and he dropped it.  I’ve never seen that before.  It was the most pathetic thing ever.  The crowd went wild, and for good reason.  It was definitely one of the highlights of the season.  And Ciriaco came right on home.  Sweet, sweet, sweet stuff.

And he wasn’t even done.  He completely botched what was supposed to be a routine ground ball as well as completely ruined a throw to first in the third, which accounted for two of the base runners we had in the third inning.

Thus, the final score was 7-3.  Punto went two for four, and Ciriaco had another great game with a three-for-four performance.  Defensive highlights, aside from the Yankees’ blatant examples of lack thereof, included Sweeney’s ridiculously outstsanding catch to end the fifth; the ball was hit to shallow center field, and Sweeney charged and dove front-first to haul it in.  We had half as many hits as they did, and those two doubles were our only extra-base hits.  We went two for fourteen with runners in scoring position and left twelve on base.  Despite the fact that the Yankees had fourteen hits to our seven, they went three for fourteen with runners in scoring position and left eleven on base, so from that perspective the team were evenly matched, and you can see that the Yankees also had plenty of opportunities of which they did not take advantage.  But they still won, so that observation doesn’t do much.

As for the bigger picture, we just lost three out of four games to the Evil Empire and we enter the All-Star break at .500.  We are tied for fourth (or last, again, depending on how you look at it), and we are nine and a half games out of first.  For his part, Lester enters the break with the lowest ERA he has ever had in any first half of any season in his career as well as the lowest strikeout total he has ever had in any first half of any season since 2008.  However, it is also true that we can expect the returns of Ellsbury and Buchholz to be imminent, and I imagine that Pedroia’s return can’t be too far off, either.  No matter what, no team in the Major Leagues needs a break more than we do.  We need to regroup, refocus, and just figure out how to win as a team and on a consistent basis.  We need to find our groove.  And when we find it, we need to stay in it and ride it to a good place.

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First of all, let me just say that honoring Papi before the game for his four hundred career home runs was a very nice and well-deserved touch.

When I emphasized our need for a strong series, a game like last night’s was not exactly what I had in mind because we lost.  We are now eight and a half games out of first place, a new season high, or more accurately a new season low.  To be fair, it wasn’t one of those games where the Yanks just scored a mountain of runs and then we had to battle all the way back from scratch but failed to score those few extra we needed at the end.  Our hitters did not procrastinate.  We stayed right with them, neck-and-neck throughout the contest.  That was why the outcome was crushing.

Beckett did not have a good night by any stretch of the imagination, and it’s always funny how a bad night against any other team looks so much worse against the Evil Empire.  He only lasted five innings and gave up six runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out five.  He threw ninety pitches, forty-nine of which were strikes, so just over half or so.

It was not pretty.  He faced the entire starting nine in the first inning alone, and this is how it went: two straight singles, a hit batsman to load the bases, a five-pitch walk to walk in a run, an RBI single that scored two, a sac fly that scored one, another single, and another sac fly to score another one, and finally a groundout to end it.  It was painful, it was humiliating, it was horrific, and if it wasn’t a sign for things to come, I don’t know what was.

Fortunately, at least at the time, we actually succeeded in getting all of those runs back and tying the game at five before the first inning was even done.  It was amazing, and it gave us a reason to believe that we were still in this thing, because for most of the game we actually were.  Nava led off the first for us with a double, advanced to third on  wild pitch, and scored on a sac  fly by Kalish.  Then Papi singled, Ross reached on an error, Gonzalez doubled in Papi, and Salty hit a huge three-run shot on his second pitch that ended up in right several feet away from the foul pole.  I mean, that’s basically what happens if you throw a middle-in fastball to Salty.  It was his seventeenth of the year, a new career high.

We continued playing cat-and-mouse for pretty much the rest of the game, right up until the Yanks scored their two winning runs that we obviously did not answer.  Beckett gave up a triple followed by a groundout for another run in the top of the second; Nava got hit, Kalish singled, and Nava scored on a single by Papi in the bottom of the second.  Both teams went down in order in the third.  Neither team scored in the fourth, either.  The Yanks didn’t score in the top of the fifth, and we gave ourselves our first lead of the night in the bottom of the frame; Gonzalez singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Gomez, which made the score 7-6.

Neither team scored in the sixth, which Albers pitched.  But it turned bad again in the seventh, when Miller came on.  He gave up a walk and a single followed by a strikeout.  Then Padilla came on and gave up a triple that scored two.  He followed that with a strikeout and then a double that scored one.  Atchison came on and then allowed his inherited runner to score on a single.  And the squandering of the one-run lead continues.

Ross homered to lead off the seventh on his third pitch, which ended up in the Monster seats.  Salty’s home run scored more runs, but Ross’s home run was a moon shot.  The ball went over the Monster.  Not in it.  Over it.  And it’s hard to hit a homer more moon shot-esque than that.  We put two men on over the course of the rest of the inning, but it didn’t amount to anything because Derek Jeter just had to convert what would have been a surefire hit into a force out, and then Punto struck out to end it.  Melancon pitched a solid eighth and ninth, during which we did not score.  And then we went down in order in the bottom of the ninth, and the Evil Empire won, 10-8.

Gomez went two for four, Gonzalez went three for five, and Papi went three for four.  Both teams posted fourteen hits each and converted four of their opportunities with runners in scoring position.  Beckett received a no-decision, Albers received a hold, Miller received both a hold and the loss, and Padilla received a blown save.  Defensive highlights included Punto gunning down A-Rod at home in the fifth for the second out.  It was an absolutely perfect block and tag.  What a textbook play.

The reason why this loss was so rough was not only because we lost to the Yankees, which is obviously a really big part of it.  It was also because we were right in that game until, well, until we weren’t anymore, until they scored those two runs that would go unanswered.  To have to witness the Yanks get five runs off of Beckett and then to watch as we got every single one of those runs back, three of them on one swing of the bat, before the first inning was even over was just truly awesome and amazing.  And then to watch us stay right there with them almost every step of the way, like I said, was a real testament to what we have in us and how great we can really be.  And, like I said, that was why the loss was so devastating.  It was because we could have won just as easily as we lost.

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We have now officially picked up our first win in extras! It’s nice to be the one celebrating after the nailbiter is over.  We split the series and can feel good about our performance, because for some reason we haven’t had much luck against Seattle’s pitching.

For us, Doubront lasted only four and one-third innings.  He gave up one run on three hits while walking five and striking out four.  It was a miracle the game wasn’t won by the time he was pulled.  He had absolutely no command, and how Seattle managed to not take advantage of that is completely beyond me.  Whatever groove he was in at the start of the season appears to have taken a vacation; he needs to find it again and get back in the game.

He lasted about half as long as Seattle’s starter, so he shares credit for the win with the rest of the bullpen.  Indeed, he didn’t even pick up the win; Padilla did.  Albers finished the fifth and pitched the sixth, Atchison pitched the seventh and eighth, Padilla pitched the ninth, and Aceves picked up a save for his work in the tenth.

We went down in order in the first but had a fantastic opportunity to score in the second; Ross and Gonzalez hit two straight singles to lead it off.  After two quick outs, Shoppach walked to load the bases, but Punto lined out to end it.  Until the eighth, we had at most one base runner per inning.  In the eighth, we finally got on the board for the first time thanks to Pedroia’s power.  With one out, he went yard on his second pitch, which was actually pretty similar to his first pitch.  Both were eighty-eight mile-per-our two-seam fastballs.  The difference was that he took the first one for a ball and he took the second out of the park, sending it beyond the fence in left.  It was his first home run since May, so it was about time.

That home run tied the game at one.  In the third, Doubront had given up two straight singles followed by a sac fly for the first run of the game.  And the game remained tied at one until the tenth, when Brandon League replaced Tom Wilhelmsen. League got Punto to ground out, but then gave up a double to Kalish and a single to Pedroia, which moved Kalish to third and set the table for what happened next.  Then League was replaced by Lucas Luetge, who gave up a sac fly to Papi, which scored what would shortly become the winning run.  The final score was 2-1.

So it was Pedroia who had the clutch hitting, and it’s been far too long since we’ve been able to say that.  Hopefully this is him getting something going here.  We could really use that.  We’re alone in third, one game ahead of the Rays and half a game behind Baltimore.

Additionally, the All-Star votes are in, and Papi is making the trip again for the eighth time in his ten seasons with us! His vote total was the fifth highest in the Majors! This year, he’ll be skipping the Home Run Derby; he said that it made him tired last year, especially at the end of the season, and he doesn’t want that to happen again this year.  I have to say, that’s a team player right there.  Unfortunately, he’s the only one who’ll represent us.  We’ve got only one All-Star for the first time since 2001, and let me tell you, it feels really strange.  Especially since we all know that Salty should have been voted in, hands down.  Clearly it’s not important that he leads American League catchers in most of the important categories.  I mean, there’s nothing to be done about it, but I’m just saying that it’s completely and totally wrong.

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Oh, man.  Oh, man, oh, man, oh, man.  That was a terrible loss.  It was absolutely crushing.  Crushing, crushing, crushing.  It doesn’t get much more devastating than that.  To hold on and do everything right (I can say that because the only error we made did not result in damage, luckily; it wouldn’t have made a difference, as it turned out, all else being equal, but at least we can hold our heads high the way the score turned out) and play so well until the very last possible minute and then give it all up will bring the pain every time.

The matchup was exceptionally even, but I don’t think anyone thought it would be going into it, which is a huge credit to the pitchers we sent out there.  Morales was nothing short of stunning, both literally and figuratively.  He pitched a full seven shutout innings.  He gave up only three runs, walked two, and struck out seven.  He threw 109 pitches, seventy of which were strikes.  He threw a really nasty curveball as well as a nasty two-seam fastball, and his four-seam and changeup were also fantastic.  He took advantage of his arsenal, mixing pitches well and varying speeds.  He was efficient for the most part as well; he threw eleven pitches in the first, nine in the second, twenty in the third, nineteen in the fourth, eighteen in the fifth, thirteen in the sixth, and nineteen in the seventh.

The first and second were his only one-two-three innings.  He gave up his first walk in the third and his second in the fifth.  He gave up a single in the fourth, sixth, and seventh, his only inning in which he had to deal with more than one baserunner thanks to a missed catch by Gonzalez, which put runners at the corners with two out.

Miller had himself a one-two-three eighth inning.  It was Atchison who took the loss for giving up the walkoff RBI single that ended it all.  He began the inning with a flyout but followed it with a double and then an intentional walk.  And then John Jaso pinch-hit for Miguel Olivo and singled on the first pitch of the at-bat to right field, scoring one run to win the game.

If that had been all, the loss would have been crushing but not so devastating because we would have known that we tried our best and it simply wasn’t enough that day against the Mariners.  But it doesn’t end there.  Ross threw to the plate to try to get the runner, and Salty had it and was ready to tag and go into extra innings.  He was ready.  He had the ball and he was in position and everything with ample time and distance to spare.  There wasn’t even a doubt that no run would score.  And if the play had gone according to plan, who knows? Maybe we’d still be out there playing baseball.

But no.  As Salty tried to make the tag, he lost the ball.  I saw it with my own eyes, and even as it was happening, I couldn’t even believe it.  I didn’t want to believe it.  It was one of the more pathetic things I’ve ever seen; Salty didn’t even know he lost the ball until after he applied the tag and saw that the run had scored.  Only then did he notice that the ball was lying several feet from the plate.

Meanwhile, the offense was completely and totally stymied by Felix Hernandez, who pitched a complete game shutout and held us to five hits and one walk.  We struck out thirteen times, which tied a career high for Hernandez.

We went down in order in the first, second, fifth, sixth, and eighth.  We singled in the third, fourth, seventh, and ninth.  Our best opportunities to score were the two innings in which we somehow managed to put two runners on the basepaths: the third, when we had two on with two out thanks to two singles which were for naught when Pedroia ended the threat by hitting a ball too hard to left center field, and the ninth, when we had two on with one out thanks to a single followed by our one walk, which went to Salty.  And then Gonzalez stepped up to the plate and was quickly 3-0.  The situation looked good.  Then, all of a sudden, he swung through a fastball and then fouled off four straight pitches.  So the count was full, and all of Red Sox Nation was hanging on the edge of their seats.  And of course it ended very anticlimactically: with a flyout on the ninth pitch of a valiant at-bat.  And you can thank the spaciousness of the outfield at Safeco for that.

So the final score was indeed 1-0, and it was the most intense pitcher’s duel I’ve seen in a very, very long time.  I mean, it was a real, old-fashioned pitcher’s duel.  It had to be when the final score is 1-0.  But it didn’t have to end the way it did.  Even if we would have lost eventually anyway, it didn’t have to be decided by something so humiliating as simply having lost the ball.  It was actually literally just horrifying.

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Now, that’s more like it! Especially with Dice-K pitching well! Admittedly, he didn’t pitch long, but let’s remember that our expectations unfortunately shouldn’t be too high at this point.  But we can celebrate coming back in the late innings to win it; it shows resilience, strength, and a never-say-die attitude.  We needed a win like this to keep our momentum going, our spirits up, and our record intact.

He pitched five and two-thirds innings and gave up one run on six hits.  That one run was the only run the Jays would score all night.  In the first, Dice-K gave up a double, followed by a fielder’s choice.  Then there was a popout followed by an RBI single, and that was it.  (Incidentally, Middlebrooks made another error that allowed a runner to advance to third on the following play.  Fortunately, it didn’t result in any damage, and all else being equal, even if it did we would have won anyway, but still.) Dice-K also walked one and struck out five.  He had a killer cutter last night that was thrown for strikes almost eighty percent of the time.  Fortunately he threw mostly cutters and four-seams, which were also thrown mostly for strikes.  He threw some curveballs, which honestly were horrendous, as well as a handful of two-seams, changeups, and sliders, which were alright.  He also threw a lot of pitches; I guess some things never change.  He needed one hundred pitches to get through his outing.

Unfortunately, he didn’t get the win.  When he exited the game, we were down by one because we hadn’t scored anything and wouldn’t until the seventh, when we saw three different relievers and sent seven batters to the plate.  We almost scored in the sixth, though.  With one out, Pedroia walked and tried to come home on a double by Papi but was out at the plate.

Anyway, the seventh inning began with two quick outs followed by a solo shot by Salty on his second pitch, a fastball down and away.  He put it in the first row of Monster seats and tied the game with one swing; it’s always nice when you can do it efficiently with one swing of the bat.  Kalish then came in to pinch-hit for McDonald and doubled.  Nava then came in to pinch-hit for Lillibridge and was hit by a pitch.  Then Aviles walked to load the bases.  And then Pedroia singled in two, with Aviles out at third.

We scored two more in the eighth to cement the win.  Papi doubled, Ross singled, Papi scored on a double by Gonzalez, and Ross scored on a sac fly by Middlebrooks.

Seriously, how many of you thought we were going to lose this one by a score of 1-0? Games like this show you that you can never count us out.  It’s good to have a reminder of that every once in a while.  Even though ideally you hope we’re never in a situation where we have to come from behind.

Atchison pitched the last out of the sixth as well as the first two of the seventh, Miller pitched the last out of the seventh and picked up the win, Padilla pitched the eighth and picked up a hold, and Aceves pitched the ninth.  The final score was 5-1.  We are now in sole possession of second-to-last place.  If we win today, we will have one nine of our last eleven and our fifth consecutive series.

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On June 12, we beat the Marlins, 2-1, in an obviously close game.  Buchholz was a big part of that; he pitched seven innings and gave up only one run on five hits, while walking one and striking out two.  One of those five hits was a solo shot in the seventh.  Padilla received a hold for the seventh, and Aceves got the save in the ninth.  We scored both of our runs via small ball in the seventh; Youk grounded out, Middlebrooks singled, Gonzalez flied out, Shoppach doubled in Middlebrooks, and Aviles singled in Shoppach.  We completed our series against the Marlins with a win as lopsided as that one was close, winning by a final score of 10-2.  Doubront delivered unquestionably his best start of the season, pitching a full seven innings and giving up two runs on three hits while walking one and striking out nine.  One of those three hits was a solo shot with two out in the sixth.  Padilla, Miller, and Albers combined to pitch the rest of the game.  And our hits were really busy; Aviles scored on a groundout in the third, Papi homered in the fourth, three consecutive singles and a sac fly in the sixth yielded two more, and we put up a six-spot in the eighth, when we sent eleven batters to the plate! Punto doubled, four straight singles yielded three runs, Middlebrooks got hit, Salty scored another with a sac fly, Sweeney lined out, and two straight singles scored our last run.

On June15, we started our series against the Cubs, and I am both relieved and pleased to say that Dice-K had himself a phenomenal start! He pitched six innings and gave up three runs on four hits while walking three and striking out three.  He threw ninety-three pitches, sixty-two of which were strikes.  Atchison and Melancon finished the game on the mound.  But we were shut out and lost, 3-0.  We had better luck in the next game, which we won, 4-3.  Lester went six and two-thirds innings and allowed three runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out eight; he gave up a two-run shot with one out in the seventh.  Salty homered with Papi on in the fourth, Middlebrooks singled in another run in the sixth, and then Podsednik singled in our final run in the seventh.  We ended up winning the rubber game by a final score of 7-4.  Beckett was out with inflammation in his right shoulder, so all those times I called for the bullpen to start rather than the starter finally paid off.  Morales pitched five innings and gave up two runs on four hits while walking none and striking out five; all in all, I’d say he was spectacular given the circumstances, including the fact that it was his first start since 2009.  He threw eighty pitches.  Albers then received a blown save for giving up the tying run; Miller, Melancon, and Atchison held the fort until Aceves allowed a run in the ninth.  In the first, Pedroia doubled and Papi singled for two, Papi led off the fourth with a solo shot, we scored three in the seventh on a single and two sacrifices, and we scored one in the eighth on a force out.

We played the Marlins again starting on Monday, this time at home, and this time we swept them.  The first game’s score was 7-5; Buchholz gave up five runs on nine hits while walking one and striking out three.  Albers, Miller, and Padilla performed well in middle relief, and Aceves picked up the save.  Papi hit a two-run shot in the first, Shoppach hit a two-run shot in the second, Ross hit a solo shot in the fourth, Gonzalez hit a sac fly in the fifth, and Middlebrooks doubled another in in the sixth.  The second game was a 15-5 blowout.  Doubront gave up four runs on nine hits while walking one and striking out four; Mortensen gave up one run, and Melancon pitched a shutout inning.  Aviles hit a three-run shot in the second to start the scoring.  Ross hit a bases-loaded, bases-clearing double in the third for three more runs.  We blew it wide open in the fourth; Kalish singled in one, Papi smacked a grand slam, and Salty hit a solo shot! Punto scored on a wild pitch in the fifth, and Middlebrooks hit a two-run shot in the eighth.  We barely won a nailbiter to complete the sweep.  Dice-K gave up four runs on four hits over five and a third innings; he walked one and struck out four.  Miller gave up one run, and it was Atchison who picked up the win and Aceves the save.  We got on the board in the fourth when a single and a sac fly brought in two, and we tied it up in the fifth with a single.  Then they led by two until the eighth, when Middlebrooks hit a two-run shot and Nava singled in a third run.  After Aceves’s performance, we had the sweep in hand.

After the Marlins, we hosted the Braves.  We lost on Friday, 4-1, but it wasn’t for lack of starting pitching.  Lester pitched seven innings and gave up three runs on ten hits while walking one and striking out five.  This time it was Melancon who allowed a run while Mortensen recorded the game’s last out successfully.  We scored our only run in the eighth on a double by Nava.  We won on Saturday, 8-4; Morales started again and was fantastic.  He gave up three runs, two earned, on seven hits over six innings while walking one and striking out eight; he threw eighty-six pitches.  Atchison, Miller, Padilla, and Aceves all appeared in relief.  Gonzalez singled in one and Middlebrooks doubled in another in the first, Pedroia doubled in two in the second, Middlebrooks homered in the third, Ross doubled in another in the fifth, and Nava singled in two in the seventh.  We ended up winning the series yesterday with a final score of 9-4.  Cook started in place of Buchholz, who was hospitalized due to a gastrointestinal problem.  Cook gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits over five innings.  He walked none and struck out none.  Albers allowed another run in relief; other than that, Miller, Atchison, and Melancon performed well and took care of the rest of the game.  Ross hit a three-run shot in the fourth, followed by a solo shot by Gonzalez.  Middlebrooks brought another one in with a sac fly in the fifth, followed by another home run by Ross, this one for two runs.  Nava doubled in another run in the sixth, and Youk tripled in our final run in the seventh.

It turned out that that run would be the last that Youk would bring home and third base would be the last base that Youk would defend and that game would be the last that Youk would play in a Boston uniform.  He was traded yesterday with cash to cover the remainder of this year’s salary before that at-bat to the Other Sox for utility man Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart, who the team has been scouting apparently since his college days.

Even before the at-bat, the crowd knew it was probably their last time seeing this phenomenal player playing for them; they had already given him a well-deserved standing ovation before his first at-bat in the second, and Youk had already returned it with a tip of his helmet.  In classic dirt-dog fashion, Youk legged out that triple, admittedly with a little help from the Braves, and went into the slide, and the standing ovation that he received afterwards was huge, thunderous, and extremely well-deserved.  Punto came out to pinch-run, since Ben didn’t want him injured, and after an emotional hug, as the two have been friends for years and years through Athletes Performance in Arizona, Youk returned to the dugout.  He tipped his helmet and was greeted by everyone at the entrance for more hugs and then emerged for a curtain call for both the crowd and his teammates, initiated by none other than Big Papi himself.

On the day, Youk went two for four with the triple and the one RBI.  Obviously, he also walked once and was involved in a controversial defensive play in the third during which there was some concern that he may have sustained an injury but flashed his characteristic leather throughout.  Also obviously though, there is more to a player than his final at-bat for a ballclub.  Youk was more to us than a triple and some good plays at third.  We picked him in the eighth round of the First-Year Player Draft in 2001 and raised him ourselves on the farm, and his first year in the Majors culminated in a World Series ring, our first in eighty-six years; with this trade, Papi is now the only member of that team still playing for us today.  Three years later, he added another in 2007.  He finishes his career in Boston with a batting average of .287, an on-base percentage of .388, 728 strikeouts, twenty-six stolen bases in forty attempts, and 961 hits.  Of those, 239 were doubles, seventeen were triples, and 133 were homers.  He batted in 564 runs and scored 594.  He played in 953 games and accumulated 3,352 at-bats.  Last but not least offensively, two of the stats for which he is most renowned throughout Major League Baseball, he walked 494 times and was hit by eighty-six pitches.  Now that’s a combination of eyes and patience if I’ve ever seen it.

In addition to his offense, the second aspect to Youk’s incredible game as his fielding, and this was where his versatility really shone.  Youk was a fixture at the corners.  Both of them.  It is fitting that he ended his Boston career at the bag where he began it, but he will be remembered as someone who routinely crossed the diamond without a word or a hiccup.  His fielding percentage at third in 362 games and 320 starts is .966; his fielding percentage at first in 594 games and 546 starts is .997.  In his career thus far, he has also played second base, left field, and right field and has made 986 assists, 4,788 putouts, and only forty-four errors.

There are all sorts of comparisons to be made between his stats and those of other greats the game has seen, but he was such a unique player that he shines in his own right, which brings me to the third and final aspect of Youk’s game, which was his character and leadership off the field.  As is the case so often for veterans who have played here, he was an extremely classy player.  He gave everything he had for every single at-bat at the plate and every single play in the field; he was completely invested in the well-being of the team, as evidenced by his visible and often physical expressions of frustration at his recent lack of production.  Every extra-base hit he legged out, every diving play he made, every walk he worked, and every batting helmet he threw were all the result of a fierce desire to see this team succeed.  He was a terrific mentor to the younger guys, including his replacement even as he was conscious of the fact that he was being replaced, and had a fierce, determined, and committed will.  He earned every All-Star vote he ever received and represented us three times as someone who really embodied the spirit of what it means to play here.  He was committed to his teammates as well, as evidenced in their extremely heartfelt goodbyes.  Pedroia said he loves the guy, as do well all.

We all knew this was coming.  Youk was being sidelined by Middlebrooks constantly, and the lineup was all convoluted to try to fit him in, and he didn’t exactly get along with Bobby V., and the rumors were steady.  But putting all of that aside, it speaks volumes about the type of player but also the type of guy that Youk was that after a big win that gave us the best record we’ve had all year, the mood in the clubhouse was sad, somber, and serious.  Youk helped us win two World Series championships and gave his all to this team, this city, and this game.  To say that he will be missed is an extreme understatement.  Youk, we salute you.

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That was a tough loss.  A really tough loss.  Not only because we just got swept but also because we could have had it in the bag, and it should have been us celebrating a win.  Again, it was a situation where the two teams were remarkably evenly matched.  The fact that this other evenly matched time is Washington is still going to take some serious getting used to.  Meanwhile, we have nothing to content ourselves with but the hope that we’ll win our next game.

Lester pitched phenomenally well.  Unfortunately, so did Jordan Zimmermann.  Lester pitched seven innings; Zimmermann pitched seven innings.  Lester gave up three runs on six hits; Zimmermann gave up three runs on seven hits.  Lester walked two and struck out nine; Zimmermann walked two and struck out seven.  Lester threw 107 pitches; Zimmermann threw 105 pitches.  Lester threw sixty-seven pitches; Zimmermann threw seventy pitches.

Washington struck first; Lester’s second pitch of the game was hit for a double, which eventually turned into a run on a groundout.  Lester had a great one-two-three second inning and got a crucial called strikeout to end the third with the bases loaded.

We scored our first run in the third; Punto led it off with a walk, Podsednik singled him to third, and he scored on a force out by Pedroia.  Papi led off the fourth with a solo shot into the bullpen on a fastball.  It was a wallop of a swing in classic Papi fashion.  And at the time, it gave us a one-run lead.  Unfortunately it wouldn’t last.

Lester had a one-two-three fifth and sixth.  We had two on base in the fifth with whom we did nothing, and we went down in order in the sixth.  Lester gave up his last two runs in the seventh; he gave up two consecutive singles to start it and then obtained two quick outs before allowing a double that scored two.

We scored our third and final run in the seventh as well; Sweeney and Punto hit back-to-back singles, McDonald hit a sac bunt to move them over, and then Sweeney scored on a double by Podsednik.

Atchison replaced Lester and had himself a one-two-three eighth; so far, so good.  We had two on base in the eighth and did nothing with that opportunity.

And then everything was ruined in the ninth.  Aceves replaced Atchison and blew it completely; he took the loss.  He induced a flyout, a walk, a strikeout, and then a double that scored one.  The inning ended on a popout.  Aside from one walk in the ninth, we didn’t do anything to come back.  We lost, 4-3.  Podsednik went two for five, and Papi went three for four with the double and home run.  Lester received a no-decision, which is fine, because he didn’t deserve the loss.  Aceves deserved every bit of it.

I never thought I’d see the day when we’d be relieved to get on the road, but it wouldn’t be the first time this year.  Sad, sad, sad.

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